New president for Verhofstadt’s party
16 February 2004
BRUSSELS – Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt’s Flemish Liberal Democrat (VLD) party appointed a new President on Monday.
Euro MP Dirk Sterckx replaces Karel De Gucht, who recently had a serious falling out with Verhofstadt over plans to give non-EU foreigners the right to vote in Belgium’s local elections.
De Gucht warned that VLD members might force the party to pull out of Belgium’s coalition government if parliament approved the foreigners’ voting plans unchanged. Such a moved may well have meant the end of Verhofstadt’s premiership.
Last week Verhofstadt took over from De Gucht as the party’s political leader, leaving the president with little more than nominal leadership of the party.
VLD grandees hope Monday’s decision, which De Gucht himself backed, will draw a line under the damaging party rift.
Sterckx will lead the VLD into this June’s regional elections. After that party members will elect a new full time president.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Belgian news